Aaptiv – Get Fit from your Phone! {Review}

I received a free two week trial of Aaptiv in exchange for my review. All opinions are 100% my own. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

If you’re a busy mom like me, you know that it’s difficult finding time for yourself, especially to do any kind of workout (unless chasing a toddler around all day counts?) But, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your health just because you can’t get to the gym. The developers at Aaptiv understand the struggle, which is why they created a fitness app that can be customized for your needs!

When I first logged in to the Aaptiv app, I noticed how minimal the interface is. This makes it super easy to navigate. There are lots of options to customize your workout (type, difficulty, duration, music genre, even the trainer you prefer!), so it will never be boring!

I’ve tried several different workouts over the last couple of weeks, and they don’t disapoint! The instructors are so motivating, and the music always fits perfectly! I was concerned that some of the yoga workouts might be a challenge with only an instructor speaking and no video (I’m more of a visual learner), but I found most of the instructors to be pretty thorough with their explanations of the exercises at the beginner level.

I also liked how at the end of each workout, I got an email from the instructor congratlating me for completing the workout, and offering suggestions for other workouts I might enjoy. I found that very encouraging, and it motivated me to try new workouts that I may not have considered on my own.

If you’re currently pregnant or recently had a baby, Aaptiv just launched a maternity program developed by expert trainers who are certified in pre and postnatal exercise (including Kira Kohrherr of FitBump, and yoga guru and author, Kristin McGee). I’m not in this stage of life anymore, but I’m sure the program is just as fun as everything else Aaptiv has to offer!

Sign up today for a free 7 day trial of Aaptiv, with unlimited access to all of their classes, and be sure to download the app at the Apple App Store and Google Play to get fit from your phone!

Choosing the Best Probiotics

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

The latest research is showing how important gut health is to your overall health. Did you know that up to 80% of your immune system is in your digestive tract?

There are many benefits to probiotics, like improving digestion and boosting the immune system (especially beneficial during cold and flu season).

But how do you know which probiotic to choose? There are so many options it can be overwhelming!

Luckily, the team at Reviews.com has done the work for you! They looked at over 200 probiotic supplements on the market, and made a list of recommendations based on which strains really work and why. They also included options that target specific health needs, such as recovery after antibiotics and relief from IBS. I was very impressed by their detailed report.

Along with a healthy diet, adding the good bacteria of a quality probiotic can be beneficial to your gut and overall health!

Disclaimer: The information contained on The Practically Green Mom represents the choices I have made to take charge of my own health and that of my family. Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using these products.

{This post is not sponsored by any company or Amazon. It does contain affiliate links to Amazon.com. Purchases made through these links support The Practically Green Mom Blog. Please see my disclosure policy for my information.}

Essential Oils for Cold and Flu Season

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Just a couple of weeks into the new school year, and we’ve already had a cold make the rounds through the house. If you’re dealing with the same thing, or just want to be prepared, here are my favorite oils to use during cold and flu season.

To help relieve nasal and chest congestion:

Eucalyptus and Peppermint (both in doTerra’s Breathe blend) are the most popular anti-congestion oils, but neither are safe for kids (especially Eucalyptus). Rosalina has similar properties to Eucalyptus, but is safe for children. Cypress would also be a suitable alternative.

For ear ache and congestion:

When a cold strikes, the first thing that I notice is that my ears are uncomfortable. If that’s the case for you or your kids, Ear Ease is a pre-diluted oil that can be used with children 2 and up. (Please follow all safety precautions on the label regarding ear infections and tubes.)

To fight germs:

Cinnamon and Clove are well known anti-germ oils. Is it just a coincidence that they are both popular holiday scents, as well? Cinnamon bark is not safe for use on anyone’s skin, but Cinnamon LEAF can be used in small quanities if dilluted properly. Clove Bud and Clove Leaf can cause skin irritation as well, if not properly diluted.

Unfortunately, products like Plant Therapy’s Germ Fighter blend and doTerra’s OnGuard which are marketed heavily during cold and flu season are not safe for use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. And because they contain Eucalyptus, they are not safe for children under age 10. Consider Plant Therapy’s Germ Destroyer as a safer alternative.

I prefer to use my oils in a diffuser, but they can also be used topically, in a personal inhaler, or with essential oil jewelry. As always, follow the safety guidelines for whichever method you choose.

In addition to essential oils, I also boost my immune system with elderberry syrup (which has been shown to reduce the length and severity of illness), and a quality probiotic.

Disclaimer: The information contained on The Practically Green Mom represents the choices I have made to take charge of my own health and that of my family. Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using these products.

{This post is not sponsored by any essential oil company or Amazon. It does contain affiliate links to Amazon.com. Purchases made through these links support The Practically Green Mom Blog. Please see my disclosure policy for my information.}

How to Keep Up a Healthy Lifestyle alongside Work

The following is a guest post.  No compensation was received. 

I imagine being a health journalist in America is actually a frustrating job. I mean it has to be, because it seems you’re constantly reading and writing about how unhealthy your country is. Just look at these numbers, and you be the judge:

If you’re a person who constantly writes about these problems, what can you do? You can give some advice that will hopefully help at least a couple of people with their health.

However, before we start talking about the solution, we first have to get to the root of the problem. Just why so many people in the United States are unhealthy? The answer probably won’t surprise you…

Maintaining a Good Work-Life Balance

In today’s day and age, people are mostly concentrated on their work, which in itself isn’t exactly a bad thing. But when you take a look and see just how many people are putting their work before their health and home life, you realize that constant work can hurt relationships, happiness and even health.

The problem is – modern technology has made workers accessible around the clock and fears of job loss have incentivized longer working hours. According to a recent Harvard Business School survey, almost 95% of employees today works more than 50 hours per week and 50% of them work 65 hours weekly.

But even if you feel like you’re too busy to concentrate on anything outside work, you need to make time for some of the most important things in your life, including health.

How to Balance Out Your Life

  • Sleep needs to be Your Number One Priority

If you ask any doctor out there, he will tell you that an average person needs anywhere between 7 to 9 hours of sleep to function properly. If you don’t have enough sleep, you’ll be unproductive, unfocused and your body will start storing fat and breaking down your muscle tissue.

In order to have high-quality sleep every night, you need to start using a smart alarm clock, or an alar app. You see, when we’re sleeping, our bodies naturally cycle between phases of light and heavy sleep. So if we’re awaken from the heaviest phase of sleep, we’ll feel terribly for the remainder of the day.

So one option to ensure that you’re not awaken from your deepest sleep, you should either purchase a light-based alarm that uses a gradually brightening light to slowly wake you up or download an app such as SleepCycle that senses when you’re moving during sleep and estimates when you enter light sleep.

 

  • Simplify Your Diet and Set Clear Rules

First off, you need to stop drinking sugary drinks like juices, sodas and alcoholic beverages. Moreover, it would be wise to stop adding sugar to your coffee and start drinking straight, black coffee. And while this may seem like hard work, it is worth it, because not only you’ll get in shape more easily, but you’ll save a lot of money in the process – Starbucks isn’t cheap after all.

You also need to ensure that you eat five to six small meals throughout the day instead of two to three large ones. Include vegetables with every meal and eat as much as you can to limit your calorie intake and get vitamins and minerals your body needs at the same time.

And you don’t have an excuse for eating junk food even if you’re on vacation. Thanks to the Internet, you can easily skip fast food chains and airport restaurants, by ordering a long-lasting food kit, which can last you for the duration of your trip.

 

  • Start Following a Time-Saving Exercise Plan

We’ve come to the hardest part of staying healthy – exercising. You know you need exercise and in order to ensure that a workout session fits your schedule, you need to make them short and intense, and schedule them for times when they are easy to do.

Ideally, you should hit the gym, because there you’ll have a distraction-free environment where you’ll be able to focus on your workout completely. Plus, every modern gym is filled with expensive equipment you usually don’t have access to. And average gym workout should last around 30 minutes and you should do them at least three times every week.

But if you don’t have enough time for a gym, you can simply workout at home. And you don’t even have to waste a ton of money for equipment – you can just buy an adjustable dumbbell and workout for 15 minutes every day. While this won’t build you too much muscle, it will still make your body burn excess fat and keep your cardiovascular system as healthy as possible.

 

Final Thoughts

Exercise is one of the most crucial human needs, unfortunately, in most cases, it is the first things that goes when our schedule starts filling up. But you have to make a conscious effort to exercise at least 150 minutes every week.

Once you start exercising on a daily basis, you’ll not only feeling healthier, but you’ll also feel more relaxed and satisfied. A quick workout will give you an endorphin rush, which will lift your mood. According to Mayo Clinic, it can even serve a 1-2 punch by also putting you in a meditative state.

The bottom line is, you have to work hard to achieve a good work-life balance if you want to remain healthy enough to advance your career. So make sure that your daily schedule includes a couple of minutes of exercise every day, be careful about your diet and enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

So what do you think about our tips? Do you think we left out something important? Do you have any health tips of your own? If you do, make sure to leave a comment in the comment section below and share your thoughts with the rest of us.

By Norman Harris

Healthy living and well-being have always been Harris’s main occupation. He’s a certified fitness instructor and in the last ten years, he’s taken up hiking and trekking as a way of staying in shape and keeping his inner peace. He shares his experiences and advice on as one of its revered writers.

Essential Oil Basics: Part 5 – Essential Oil Use for Children and Pets

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Using essential oils around your children and pets should be done cautiously. In this post, I will be discussing 10 common essential oils and their usage around children, dogs, cats, and other small animals.

 

10 Common Essential Oils

The oils we will be discussing in this post are from Part 4 in this series.  (Please see that post for more information on these oils and what they can be used for.)  The Latin names are in parentheses/italics. Please be sure to verify the Latin name on the products you purchase, because the common names may be very similar!

 

Children

It is not recommended to use oils on or around babies under 6 months of age. Using child-safe oils in a diffuser is the best option for children 6 months to 2 years. Topical application with a .25% dilution is ok for children 2-6 years. Please see Part 2 in this series for more information.

Safe Oils:

  • Frankincense
  • Grapefruit
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Tea Tree

Oils to Avoid:

  • Clove
    • Do not use topically on children under age 2
  • Eucalyptus
    • Do not diffuse or use topically on children under age 10
  • Oregano
    • Do not use topically on children under age 2
  • Peppermint
    • Do not diffuse or use topically on children under age 6

In Part 3, I mentioned a couple of my favorite blends that are not safe for use around children.  Here is why they are not, and some acceptable alternatives.

Breathe (due to Eucalyptus and Peppermint) – Sniffle Stopper

On Guard or similar blends, such as Thieves and Germ Fighter (due to Clove and Eucalyptus) – Germ Destroyer
 

Dogs

Before I list the oils that are safe to use around dogs, please remember the following:

1. Do not add essential oils to your dog’s food or water.
2. Avoid using essential oils with puppies under 10 weeks of age.

Safe oils:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Grapefruit
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Peppermint
  • Roman Chamomile

You can use these oils topically to help with ailments such as arthritis (lemon), skin issues and flea control (lavender). Oils MUST ALWAYS BE DILUTED (using a 1-2% dilution) when applying topically as a remedy, because dogs are more sensitive to smells than humans.
 

Cats

There are no safe oils for cats. Diffusing essential oils with cats around is highly discouraged (and NEVER put them on their fur) due to the possibility of liver failure. If you choose to use a diffuser with a cat in your home, please do so in a room that your cat cannot enter. You should be fine using any oils topically on yourself, as long as the cat doesn’t get any on their fur, their paws, or in their mouth.

Of the ten oils mentioned above, these eight are especially dangerous to cats and should be avoided at all costs. There are many others that are not included in this list. Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree

 

Other Small Animals

No essential oils should be used around small animals (birds, rabbits, hamsters, fish, etc.) Do not diffuse or use cleaning sprays with EOs in a room with a pet in a cage or tank.

 

Obviously, this is not a complete list of oils that are safe or unsafe around your children and pets.  Feel free to comment below with any questions about a specific oil or blend, and I will be happy to help!

 

Check out all of the posts in this Essential Oil Basics series:

 

Disclaimer: The information contained on The Practically Green Mom represents the choices I have made to take charge of my own health and that of my family. Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using these products.

{This post is not sponsored by any essential oil company or Amazon. It does contain affiliate links to Amazon.com. Purchases made through these links support The Practically Green Mom Blog. Please see my disclosure policy for my information.}

Natural Bathroom Cleaning Tips

The following is a guest post.  No compensation was received. 

More than 150 chemicals found in your home are connected to allergies, birth defects, cancer and physiological disorders. The majority of these chemicals are used in routine bathroom cleaning. There are many DIY “recipes” that combine household ingredients to create a natural cleaning solution, and eliminate harsh chemicals. For example, you can combine baking soda and vinegar to create a tile cleaner. The following slideshow displays different recipes and methods for cleaning your bathroom without using harmful chemicals. Try these solutions to help clean your house safely.

How to Clean Your Bathroom…Naturally by Modern Bathroom, a company that offers sinks, faucets, and wall-mounted vanities.

 

How to Find Safer Cleaning Products for Your Home

The following is a guest post from Hannah at Wild Mint.  No compensation was received. 

Hello, The Practically Green Mom readers! My name is Hannah Helsabeck and I reached out to Allie recently after finding her blog and falling in love with her “green(ish)” attitude and advice. I couldn’t agree more with her motto of doing the best you can and trying new things when it comes to green living, which really aligns with the inspiration behind my company Wild Mint. I’m obsessed with researching all the ways to live a more toxin-free life and sharing what I learn with others. On Wildmintshop.com, I provide all the information and products that I use to do just that.

Today, Allie was gracious enough to let me share my knowledge about green and natural cleaning products, a big topic for anyone else who is a clean-freak like me! Harmful, chemical-based cleaning products have been the norm for so long that even the most dedicated toxin-free individual can have trouble finding the best types of solutions to use at home. The unfortunate practice of companies “greenwashing” products only adds to this confusion. If you haven’t heard this term before, greenwashing refers to companies claiming to be environmentally friendly by marketing products with misleading information.  These companies can mislead consumers by falsifying claims, using vague terms, and exaggerating green practices, just to name a few.

My team and I at Wild Mint strongly believe in the importance of transparency, awareness, and education so you can make your own informed decisions.  Alongside awareness, we suggest the following tips when looking for safer cleaning products:

  • Be a Label Checker – A good line of defense is to buy products from brands that list all of their ingredients on their label and are transparent both on their website and in their product offerings. A product should clearly state what is and is not used in its production in a way that is easily understood. You should also look out for and avoid products with the following terms listed on the label or packaging:
    • Fatal if inhaled
    • Fatal if swallowed
    • Watch out for terms like “poison,” “danger,” or “fatal”
    • Vague terms like surfactant or solvent
    • Skip phosphate additives
  • Be a Certification Critic – Some companies go above and beyond to certify their products and make their brand even more reputable, with certifications such as USDA Organic, Fair Trade, Cruelty Free (PETA), Energy Star, Green Seal Certified, and so on. Take a look at the certification on a label, and do a quick search on your phone or at home to see if the certification is valid.
  • Vague Terms – A prevalent greenwashing tactic to look out for is “vagueness”. Some common phrases to look out for include Eco Friendly, Environmentally Friendly, Earth Friendly, Environment Safe, Harnessing Nature, and Eco Chemistry. Remember, transparency is key; a company should be able to prove their products are indeed safe.

So what brands can you trust? Well, some of my favorites include Better Life, Dr. Bronners, and Eco-Me, which you can find here.  I use this all purpose cleaner and this multi-area scrubber cleanser by Better Life regularly.  I love that the Better Life products never leave a toxic smell after cleaning (like some chemical cleaners do!), are plant-based, and made without the use of harmful chemicals, making them safe for people, pets, the surfaces in your home, and the environment.

hannah Wild Mint - guest

You can also try your hand at making natural cleaning solutions yourself! Try Allie’s homemade air freshener made with essential oils or a combination of vinegar-based solutions.

Thank you to Allie for letting me guest post today and feel free to send me any of your questions about toxin-free living at hello@wildmintshop.com!

~ Hannah Helsabeck

President, Wild Mint Shop

Hannah Helsabeck is President and Co-Founder of Wild Mint, an online shop dedicated to helping families find toxin-free and eco-friendly products for healthier lifestyles.  She is passionate about educating others on the benefits of healthy living and the importance of taking small steps towards eliminating exposure to toxins in people’s daily lives.  She also enjoys finding new ways to be eco-conscious and is often found in the kitchen cooking up simple meals with real, whole foods. Hannah is the oldest of six kids, has amazing parents as role models in business as well as life, and currently lives in South Florida with her incredibly supportive husband.

Botanical Splash – Body Moisturizer and Revitalizer {2nd Annual Thankful for Our Followers Giveaway Hop} #Thankful4Followers

Welcome to the [2nd Annual] Thankful for our Followers Giveaway Hop hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network!

Thankful2

YOU are the reason that bloggers like us host giveaways so we’ve decided it’s time for all of us bloggers to show even more of our appreciation to you… our readers and blog followers. Normally we offer giveaways with entries to help boost our blog and following numbers, but this Hop is all about making it easier on YOU.

Each blogger in this Hop is offering a wonderful prize, worth at least $25 and ALL giveaways have only ONE way to enter!
Hop around to them all as we show you how we’re Thankful for YOU!

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Special thanks to Trusted Health Products for providing the giveaway prizes for this event! Three winners will each receive one bottle of Botanical Splash Body Moisturizer! (Be sure to check out my previous review of Botanical Splash.) Each prize is valued at $25.

botanical splash review

Fine-ish print: Three winners will each receive one bottle of Botanical Splash Body Moisturizer. Giveaway runs from November 3rd {12:01 am EST} through November 17th {11:59 pm EST}. Entering is easy! Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. By filling out the form, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions linked in the bottom of the Rafflecopter. Must be 18 or older, and a resident of the U.S. or Canada (excluding Quebec and Puerto Rico). No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Winner has 48 hours after initial contact to claim prize.

botanicalsplash

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Be sure to visit these other amazing bloggers for more GIVEAWAYS!



So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Thankful for Our Followers participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

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